By Marty Bergoffen & Larry Edwards
September 17, 2011
Andy Rauwolf's Sept. 12 Viewpoint Commentary, criticizing our effort to ensure the Alexander Archipelago wolf's safety from extinction, relies on supposed facts that are simply wrong.
First, Rauwolf claims there is no such thing as an Alexander Archipelago wolf, that it is the same as those across to Michigan. The Alexander Archipelago wolf has been considered a distinct subspecies of the gray wolf since its first scientific description in 1937 by E.A. Goldman, in the Journal of Mammalogy, based on unique physical characteristics. Since then, numerous scientific studies and reports have further validated its genetic distinctiveness from other wolves and its subspecies status, as acknowledged by the Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).
Contrary to Rauwolf's claim that ADF&G estimated a population of 1,200 wolves on Prince of Wales Island circa 2004, the highest estimate ever made for the island was 350. Last year, ADF&G and others were alarmed by an obvious, sharp decline over a few years, to a fraction of that. A precise survey has yet to be conducted.
For two decades the three agencies have considered the Alexander Archipelago wolf a "species of concern," largely because of losses of old-growth forests to logging and the contribution of high road density to mortality. In 1997, designation of this wolf as a threatened species by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service was narrowly avoided, and the agency noted that future reconsideration may be needed.
Instead of a knee-jerk rant against our efforts to protect the Alexander Archipelago wolf , Mr. Rauwolf should get current on the science about the status of this distinct subspecies and the threats it faces. A good beginning is our publicly available 103-page, science-based, fully referenced petition to list the wolf as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Protection under the Act will help ensure that Southeast Alaska's unique wolf will continue to play its important role in Southeast's ecosystem, and that the high quality coastal rainforest habitat it depends upon will also be around for future enjoyment and business.
Received September 15, 2011 - Published September 17, 2011
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